was the first climb established on the southwest buttress of the Shield, and the first on the Shield that has 5th class climbing for its full height. Because the Shield is so prominent from ABQ, every Sandia climber is drawn to this formation sooner or later, often with its easiest continuous major route, Procrastination
, in mind. This climb, like the others on the Shield, is not to be taken lightly. The approach is complicated, especially the first time (even for the Sandias), and has definite 'do-not-fall' sections. It'll take couple hours to get to the base of the climb even if done correctly.
There is some good climbing on this route, but about half of the pitches are not great with more loose blocks compared to the other classic Sandia climbs at the same grades on other formations. Its length and position make up for that.
Start behind the boulder in the aspens. Pitch 1:
A 5.8 boulder problem in a black water streak (sometimes wet) is followed by traversing left around the corner. Gear at the top of the boulder problem is there but a little tricky to find, and helps to protect the follower. This part of this pitch is the only part of the climb rated "R" in the book. It's not very scary for an R pitch in my opinion, but I'd hesitate to remove the R rating for the route though, because sandbagging on the Shield isn't cool.
A 5.4 ramp leads up and left to a 2-bolt belay. Pitch 2:
Lieback a 5.8 finger crack off the belay, and follow the left-facing corner to another 2-bolt belay (or continue up and right to tree). Quality. Pitches 3&4:
Move up and right to a tree (if not done on previous pitch). Follow a sometimes wet 5.8 hand crack up to the roof, and traverse right on featured holds under the roof (crux of route), with pro underneath roof. Turn the corner and continue up the increasingly easy & bushy gully to the next good place to belay. Another quality pitch. This pitch is split into two pitches in Mick's guide, but linking seemed reasonable. Pitch 5:
Cruise up 5.6 gully with some bushes and rubble to the big "bivi ledge" atop the Chicken Chop Suey
crack. It's a nice grassy ledge, but you'd have to be moving pretty slowly to be thinking about bivi-ing at this point though. Pitch 6:
Various options as you climb the corner or the face to its left, passing trees along the way to belay at a tree below a striking arete 180' later (5.7.) Pitch 7:
Again, more options. Stay left of the sharp arete and climb a chimney in the left-facing corner or the face to its left (5.7). Belay at a tree.
From this area, there are options. The easiest way is the original route. Higher quality climbing can be found on a variation angling right. Pitches 8-12, original route:
from Chris Wenker
: The original route angled up and left over mostly 5.6 or easier ground to the top. This is recommended if time or weather suggest a quick exit, or if 5.9 is too hard. Pushing the top of P7 (following the gully, not the 5.8 arete to the right) as high as possible allows you to belay on the Class 3 ground just under the left-facing corner with the roof on P8.
Schein says that P8 traverses left under the roof and then up to a point above the roof (to the Speedbump ledge, I guess). We were able to link P8 and P9 by heading farther left once past the roof (instead of going up). Cross a gully and climb a face with a prominent overhung block. At pretty much a full 60 m, belay somewhere in a series of big ledges with trees (top of P9). If you try to push this belay as far left as possible, the next two pitches (10 & 11) will be able to be combined as well.
P10 heads up from the left side of the treed ledges, targeting a little roof as a landmark (called 'R' in the guidebook, but not really runout at all). Pass by the roof on the right and then head left; at ~100 feet, find a large tree growing out of the base of a gully (top of P10). Behind this tree, grunge another 100 feet up the loose, dirt filled gully to another large tree (top of P11). From the left side of this tree, a very nice right-facing dihedral takes you to the top. This ~125 foot 5.8 summit pitch is all that makes this exit variation worthwhile.] Pitches 8-12, right variation:
The right variation from pitch 8 to the top is 5.9 and generally recommended more: Pitch 8:
Traverse right to an arete, climb this, (5.8) to the 'Speed Bumps' ledge. Belay below the black face. It's kind of hard to find a good belay anchor here. Pitch 9:
Climb up dark wall for 30' feet to shallow left facing corner and belay on a ledge (5.8). Consider combining this with the next pitch; together they are about 65m. Pitch 10:
Continue up a left-facing corner, step right, make an awkward 5.9 mantle, clip a bolt and step right to a 2-bolt belay. Pitch 11:
Straight up a shallow left-facing corner, roll over right, move up and turn a roof, clip a bolt, and slab to the top. 2-bolt anchor. (5.8) Other Ways to Finish:
Alternatively, from the Speed Bumps belay at the start of p9:
- (a) The big right-facing corner right of the "right finish" (5.9 for first half, top unknown). You can traverse right from this corner into the Odyssey too.
- (b) Angle up and right (5.7R) to the 2-bolt belay at the top of the 1st pitch of the Odyssey, and finish with that route, 5.10a.
- (c) traverse right on Speedbumps (4th class) to other difficult Shield exits (Cowboys Delight 5.12+?, Escape from the Cyclops 5.11a).]
Escape from this route would be possible from the top of p2 with double rope rappels off the bolted anchors at the top of p1 and p2. Beyond that, you'd need to leave a lot of gear. From the top of p8, Hill's guide reports that it is possible to move left to a cave and rappel down in the vicinity of the Standard S Route
with 3 double 50m rope rappels instead of climbing the last pitches.
Left of the prominent rainbow overhangs. It helps to pick out the big dihedral with the offwidth in it which is Chicken Chop Suey's pitch 3 as a landmark; pitch 2 of Procrastination is right below this.
Start behind the boulder in the aspen grove at the base of the talus slope. A water streak marks the beginning.
Nuts and cams to 3". If leading at your limit, doubles in the mid-sizes might be wise. Long runners are nice to minimize rope drag.
A 70m rope can be used to combine some pitches, but a 60 is ok.